A General Introduction to the Bible

‘A General Introduction to the Bible’, (ශු. බයිබලයට පොදු හැඳින්වීමක්) is an excellent Biblical Commentary, composed in Sinhala

by Reverend Father Henry Silva, one of the excellent Biblical Scholars, living in Sri Lanka. The Commentary consists seven chapters, written on vital characteristics of both Old and New Testaments.

The first chapter explains the nature of the Bible with the catalogue of Biblical Books with their different genres and with a concise description of the Pentateuch, Historical Books, Prophetic Writings, Wisdom Literature, Psalms, and Apocalyptic Writings, and the ancient worldview of creation and world’s existence, as an aid to understand the Bible well.

It also outlines the geographical settings on which the biblical accounts emerged. The chapter also explains the formation process of written material of different literary types, based on long years of oral tradition, transmitted from one generation to the other, with the periods of its compositions and developments.

The second chapter goes on to explain the notion of Divine Inspiration and the Inerrancy of the Bible and the Canon of the Bible, with relevant scriptural references. It also describes about the Masoretic Text (Hebrew Bible) and the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Bible, and also the number of books in the Hebrew Bible (39) and the number of books in the Septuagint, (Old Testament) with an account of the Deuterocanonical Books in it (46). Further it speaks about the Qumran Manuscripts and the declaration of the Council of Trent with regard to all Biblical Books.

Chapter three of this commentary is about the Old Testament and its Canon: Law, Prophets, and Writings. Also a brief description about books that come under Writings, - Historical Books, Wisdom Books, Poetical Books, and the Apocalyptic Books of the Old Testament, is outlined, with brief introductions and scriptural citations.

Chapter four of this commentary describes about the New Testament and its list of books – Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, Epistles, and the Book of Revelation, as Apocalyptic Literature. The chapter also outlines the stages of gospel formation, the Synoptics (Mark, Matthew, Luke) and the Gospel of John, and the different traditions behind them. The chapter compares and contrasts the Synoptic Gospels and the Fourth Gospel narratives and their different theological purposes. Also it gives an outline about the background of the Book of Acts, Epistles, Pastoral Letters, and the Book of Revelation.

Chapter five discloses the nexus of the Old Testament and the New Testament – the revelation in the Old Testament and its manifestation in the New Testament. The Chapter also goes on explaining how the covenantal concept in the New Testament has superseded the covenantal concept in the Old Testament in the life of Jesus, the Mediator, High Priest, Messiah, and Suffering Servant, with allusions to scriptural references.

Chapter six is about biblical interpretation, tracing the reader backwards to the origins of exegetical analysis – to the ancient times of 440 BC – to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 8, 1-12). Here the author explains the four traditions imbedded in the Pentateuch, namely, the Jahwist source, Elohist source, Priestly source, and the Deuteronomist source, and also the methods of Source Criticism, Form Criticism, Editorial Criticism, and Historical Criticism and how all these approaches help us to understand the Bible well.

Chapter seven is all about praying methods and meditation techniques suggested step by step, basing on Holy Scripture. Eight steps have been suggested here to proceed with.

The author finally suggests a long bibliography for further reading with nine editions for the Old Testament and eight editions for the New Testament. This Concise Commentary is a publication of the Biblical Commission of the Arch Diocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, printed at the Colombo Catholic Press in Sri Lanka. This Concise Commentary severs as an excellent guideline for students interested in Biblical Studies. This is the first Volume of this Exegetical Guideline Series.

Written by Anton Narangoda

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